Max Verstappen worried F1 will 'be like Nascar' and slams planned rule change

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Max Verstappen worried F1 will
Max Verstappen worried F1 will 'be like Nascar' and slams planned rule change

Max Verstappen said it would be "a shame" if Formula 1 followed NASCAR's lead when it comes to racing in wet weather.

It has become a significant talking point in recent months and been on the agenda for a couple of years. At the beginning of July, 18-year-old Dilano van't Hoff died in a Formula Regional race at Spa-Francorchamps, having been hit by another driver who could not see his stricken car in the middle of the track due to the thick spray.

And it played a part when F1 visited the Belgium track late last month. The Sprint race was shortened and began behind the safety car after heavy downpours, so that standing water on the track could be removed by the cars themselves.

The FIA has been looking at ways to tackle the problem. The solution it hopes will have a significant impact is the implementation of wheel covers which it has been testing, and which it hopes will dramatically reduce the amount of spray thrown up into the air by these F1 cars.

But Verstappen is not convinced that they will be too effective, having had enough trouble at Spa just being behind the safety car, which already has covered wheels. "It's very difficult to solve these things. You will always suffer from it, and you will always have spray," said the Dutchman.

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"Wheel covers on a Formula 1 car won't make a big difference. The safety car also gave too much spray towards me. On the motorway you actually have the same problem.

Max Verstappen worried F1 will 'be like Nascar' and slams planned rule changeVisibility concerns mean F1 chiefs are erring on the side of caution regarding racing in very wet conditions (HOCH ZWEI/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

"When I used to drive Formula 3 and was in the midfield sometimes, I couldn't see anything either. It's always been like that. Just ask the older drivers in F1 too, they didn't see anything either."

The Red Bull driver went on to compare F1's current predicament with the one facing NASCAR. Bosses of the American racing series have been reluctant to race on high-speed oval tracks in wet conditions, but are experimenting with different tyres and are happy to race on damp road courses.

Verstappen added: "Of course, certain accidents happen that have a bad outcome and then people naturally start to talk about it more. But if you look at it that way, you can't really race in the rain any more because there will always be problems with visibility. That would be a shame. Then it becomes like NASCAR, they don't drive in the rain either."

The Dutchman was backed by Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who also doubts the effectiveness of wheel covers. He believes the solution, albeit a more costly one, might be in the type of tarmac used at the circuits where F1 races.

He said: "I think it's a feature that we all think is good for safety and for racing, the closer you can follow also under the rain is positive. But on the other side, there's the physics and if there's rain on the track and you have a floor and the diffuser, and tyres that just keep creating large spray, I'm not sure we're ever going to get rid of it.

"You could look at the tarmacs of certain tracks, how that can be optimised, and I don't think that we've tackled that yet. But definitely, we know what the objective is, that we can race closer in the rain whilst at the same time acknowledging that it's never going to be great."

Daniel Moxon

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